Cape Town - Cape Town is awash with illegal guns and, in the latest round of police action, at least seven people have been arrested in two incidents with two assault rifles of military or police origin and two pistols.
Capable of firing between 600 and 750 rounds a minute, the R4 rifle is the standard weapon issued to members of the Sandf - a close-quarters killing machine.
On Tuesday, a pair of alleged gangsters were nabbed with not one, but two, variations of the automatic gun.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said police descended on a wendy house in Kaizer Street in Delft on Tuesday, where they found an R4 and an R5 rifle and ammunition. Both weapons had their serial numbers filed off.
And while he said police were investigating the origin of the weapons, a South African gun expert is certain he knows where they came from.
“The R4 is only issued to military personnel,” said Peter Smith, chairman of the High Power Rifle Association - a target-shooting organisation. “The R5, which is slightly shorter, is sometimes issued to police.
“They are not available to civilians. The R rifles are government property, which means they have either been lost, stolen or sold - which is very common.”
The weapons bust follows on the heels of another on the N2. At about 11am on Tuesday, a black Toyota RunX was pulled over opposite Bonteheuwel. A loaded 9mm Buccaneer pistol and a 9mm Browning CZ 83, were found hidden in the vehicle.
“The five male occupants were arrested for illegal possession of unlicensed firearms,” Van Wyk said.
Smith said the assault rifles were fully automatic - when the trigger was held down, it would continue spraying bullets until the magazine had been expended. The bullets could pierce wood or car doors.
It was illegal for any civilian to be in possession of this rifle, he added.
“Under the firearms control act there are three types of firearms.”
The first is a prohibited firearm, which is any gun capable of automatic fire. They were only available to the public under “very, very limited conditions” said Smith. “A tiny amount of collectors are allowed to have them.”
R4s and R5s fall in this category but cannot be sold as they are only available to the military. The civilian variations of these guns, which are semi-automatic, cost about R15 000.
The second is a restricted firearm, which includes self-loading shotguns and semi-automatic rifles and is only available to government-endorsed associations.
The final category is available to those with a gun licence. Most handguns are included under this type.
Community Police Forum cluster chairman for Langa, Bishop Lavis and Elsies River Faizal Abrahams said: “One can do a lot of speculation that there are certain elements within our police - possibly weapons are not being destroyed and are making their way back into the black market. Or weapons are coming down here from conflicts in Africa.
“The reality is we are being flooded with illegal guns.”
Abrahams said sitting at his home in Elsies River, the short report of pistol fire is steadily being replaced with the “rat-tat-tat” of automatic weapons.
“These guys are getting hold of more of these guns and it’s bad. They hold down the trigger and just aim anywhere, the statistics are there - more innocent civilians are being killed in the crossfire every month.”
Last night an 18-year-old man was gunned down outside his home in Milner Way in Belhar. Residents believed it was another gang hit.
“We need to stop this at the source,” said Abrahams. “We need to find out where these guns are coming from and stop it there. It’s no good confiscating them when they might just end up back out there again.”